Labour Councillor Brian Oosthuysen today used his casting vote as Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee to reject the Liberal Democrats challenge over Cabinet’s approval of an extra £17 million contribution towards the Javelin Park incinerator.
Gloucestershire County Council were already contributing £13 million as agreed by Cabinet in 2012. Now a further contribution of £17million will be injected from the capital fund reserve.
The Liberal Democrats were concerned about the further contribution and the impact that this would have on other capital projects in an age where significant cuts have been forecast for next year’s council budget.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) who proposed the call-in said:
“I am utterly appalled by the actions of the Labour Committee Chairman; his double standards over the incinerator are unbelievable. Cllr. Oosthuysen in voting to reject our call-in was a complete act of betrayal and tragedy in that now £17million cannot be spent on other vital council services. It will be the people of Gloucestershire that will suffer.
“Members of this council are still none the wiser to how the Conservative Cabinet have been able to manipulate the accounts in order to achieve this financial gift to Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB).
“Originally this project was supposed to be a design and build project in which UBB were to finance the whole capital investment now the council under the Tories are going to blow a total of £30million on bailing out UBB.
Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) who proposed for the call-in to be taken to full council at today’s committee also said:
“Today members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee found themselves in an exceptional situation that goes beyond process and procedures.
“There has been a democratic deficit during this whole process. The bottom-line is simply that our concerns should have been taken back to full council for proper discussion in the presence of all members.
“The Conservatives seem to continually forget we are a council in no overall control and that a further contribution of £17million to the incinerator project is a lot of money especially amidst forecast cuts to next year’s budget.
“I am also bitterly disappointed that the Labour Chairman used his casting vote to throw out our challenge”.